Title: Mind Games
Pairing: Roy Mustang x Maes Hughes (and implied Maes x Gracia of course)
Rating: PG-13 for language and some sexual innuendo
Disclaimer: It takes place right at the INFAMOUS episode 25 of the anime. The characters aren't mine.
Quote: I guess I was glad that I didnt believe in God then, because that seemed the cruelest joke He could play on a human, ultimatly taking away thier humanty and merely giving them a number. Where is the "equivilant exchange" in that?
Read all five parts of the story arc HERE!
It is rather funny, how the mind can play tricks on a person. One minute, you have your best friend there beside you, drinking and talking about work, while the alcohol in front of you shows that it is clearly work that you are trying to get away from, stop thinking about. The next minute you are watching his casket being lowered into the ground and men who you have never met, and will never meet again, (you hope) shoveling dirt over his corpse. His wife is trying to tell his daughter how daddy won't be coming back this time. You try not to cry yourself. You have to be the good little wooden solider, the loyal dog of the military, willing to be kicked around like the cur that you are.
And yet, I saw his body. I had to be the one to identify him at the morgue. His wife simply couldnt do it, and as the next highest ranking officer, it fell to me to complete this grim task. It was cold down there, and it smelt- not of death, but of
science and medicine, of chemicals and ungents. Row after row of cabinets on the wall, looking like polished, sterile, gleaming silver file cabinets built in to every nook and cranny of the room, each holding a father, a brother, a lover.
The person who worked down there looked like he should have been in one of those file cabinets of death. He was gaunt and pale. It looked like he had never been outside that room. His skin seemed to be stretched so tight, it was going to tear apart at any moment. He was frail and fragile, and breakable.
Which was exactly how I felt.
It seemed to take hours for that damn walking dead corpse to finally get to the right cabinet. A-35. I will never forget that number as long as I live. It will be permanantly tattooed into my brain, in my subconcious for the rest of my life. It seemed so unfair. Once these people were vibrant human beings, and now they were just a file cabinet number. I guess I was glad that I didnt believe in God then, because that seemed the cruelest joke He could play on a human, ultimatly taking away thier
humanty and merely giving them a number. Where is the "equivilant exchange" in that?
In his dull droll of a voice, fitting for a person who looked like he should be interned there, not working there, he asked if I was ready, and told me to stand back and prepare. I wasn't really sure what he meant. Having survived the Ishbal Rebellion, I had seen people die. Fuck, I had caused many of them to die. I saw soldiers and civilians die in my arms. What the fuck did he think I wasn't prepared for?
But I wasn't prepared for it.
He pulled the file cabinet out, and there he was. Maes Hughes. Doting father, loving husband, secret lover. Someone had thoughtfully put his glasses back on his face, but it made him look even more ridiculous, as they were broken, with glass missing and a bent frame. It was all I could do not to laugh and cry at same time, just at the sheer absurdness of it all.
He had seemed so peaceful lying on that slab of polished metal. For a moment my mind told me to get him a blanket, that table must be cold. And once again I had to tell myself that it didn't fucking matter how cold he was now. A flash of embarassment
went thru me as I gave him a look over. I realized that he was naked, covered from the stomach down with a sterile white sheet. I could see all his curves, the same curves I had seen and touched and kissed just days before. I had seen him naked before, under a white sheet, but never like this. I wanted to cry out, to beat at his chest until he woke up, or stroke his hair and give him a light kiss on the forehead, like I used to while he was sleeping, after a hot and steamy night of making love. The white sheets would be the only thing covering our sweaty, naked bodies.
I guess now that I think of it, the dead body that was working at the morgue was polite and gave me time to gather my thoughts, and give my former fellow soldier and lover a once over. I am grateful for that now. He could have rushed me along and gone onto the next stiff, but he really seemed to want to give me time to digest what was happening, what I was seeing in front of me.
It took every ounce of my strength, mentally and physically, to look down at him again. He had a minor wound on his shoulder, it looked like a knife or a bullet had grazed him a couple of times. But the fatal wound was right above where the sheet
started, a bullet wound right in the gut. It was right about the same place where I shot those doctors. The higher ups didnt want it to look like it was a State Alchemist, so my flame was extinguished and I shot them. Right in the gut. I guess if
there is a God, this is His way of torturing me. He sure waited long enough to do it, but it got the point across loud and clear.
"That... is him?" the dead body softly asked, almost apologetically. I am not sure if it was a reflex action on his part, just his way of putting on a facade of slight caring for the drones of people who come down here to collect thier loved ones, or if he noticed that I was taking it harder than a solider should for his fellow officer. Either way, his face was as stoic as ever. I couldnt speak, I just nodded softly. And as quickly as it started, with a loud BANG when the file cabinet closed, it was over. He was hidden from view again, never to be seen by anyone but the dead body standing in front of me, with a grim but almost sad look on his face.
"T-t-thank you." I hoarsley whispered. He nodded and gave a little smile and motioned towards the door. I didn't hesitate for a second, wanting to put as much space between me and that awful place as I could. I wanted to snap my fingers and burn all my clothes off so I wouldn't have to wear the reminders of when I had to go identify my best friend and confidant. My rock, my salvation, my love.
Less than 10 minutes later I was in the shower, hot water coating my naked body, curled up in a fetal position, bawling my eyes out, crying for all the people who wouldn't, or couldn't. I knew I had a funeral to go to the next day, and I knew I
wouldn't have the 'luxury' of crying then. I had to get it all out. I don't know how long I was in there. I must have blacked out or fallen asleep, because some time later the fact that the water had turned ice cold woke me back up.
I don't honestly remember crawling back to my bed, or how I was able to get up in time for the funeral, and put on my best State uniform and dress up like the pretty little wooden solider I was supposed to be. But I did. I had to look at Gracia, and wonder if she knew what her husband was doing those late nights he was 'working late at the office'. I visited her for a while, awkward, drawn out times where little was said. Eventually we drifted even further apart, if that was possible. I only visited her once a year, right around Christmas. It was a time that Maes had loved, he could use the excuse of the season to dote even more on his wife and child, and even on me.
So here I sit, the holidays have come and gone again. I have a roaring fireplace warming my skin in front of me, and a cold drink in my hand to dull the ache that comes around this time of year. And my mind plays tricks on me again. Every once in a
while I swear that I hear his name on the wind, or see his shadow in the flickering firelight.
It is rather funny, how the mind can play tricks on a person.